The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Covered bridge series

April 12, 2009

Mill Creek crossings

For Peter Betch and old Ned, stream was site of harrowing experience

Mill Creek is a busy little stream that meanders around Jefferson and several neighboring townships before it finally finds an outlet in the Grand River.

In the history of covered bridge construction in Ashtabula County, this little stream necessitated at least seven covered bridges, two of them of recent vintage. This week and next, we’ll look at six of those bridges — the extinct March Road or Route 167 bridge was visited several weeks ago.

Mill Creek’s tentacles reach all the way to Dorset and Denmark townships. On the west side of the hamlet of Dorset once stood a small covered bridge built in 1870 and removed in 1930.

The realignment and widening of Route 307 brought about the bridge’s demise, although the structure was doomed years earlier by the coming of the automobile to these rural roads.

Back then, the old highway that connected Dorset to Jefferson took a sharp turn as it approached the little bridge from the west. The combination of a narrow span and sharp turn created a scenario for accidents as gasoline-powered speed replaced the horse on the highway.

“ANOTHER ACCIDENT AT DORSET BRIDGE” shouted the headline in an Aug. 31, 1926, edition of the Ashtabula Sentinel.

“The sharp turn at the west entrance of the Dorset covered bridge was the scene of another auto accident Sunday night shortly after ten o’clock. The 1918 Buick touring car owned by Roy Smith, of Russell St., Ashtabula, crashed into the railing, and Smith suffered internal injuries. Miller’s ambulance was called, and the injured man was taken to the Ashtabula General Hospital. With Smith in the front seat was another man, who escaped injury.

“The car was badly damaged. The front right wheel was broken, the axle bent, windshield broken, and the entire right side of the car was damaged. The wreckage was taken to the garage of H.J. Cosner.”

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